Everybody needs goals
Our goals are to support the university’s mission of service, showcase the widespread and diverse contributions of the UC San Diego community and highlight the number hours of volunteer service we are collectively giving back to the community.
Personal Volunteer Stories
UC San Diego has a vibrant and diverse volunteer community. Click the photos to read about what you and your colleagues are already doing, then sign up with Volunteer50 to multiply their impact.
Staff member Ryan Crawford is the Community Service Coordinator at UC San Diego, the past Vice President of the Rotaract Club of Downtown San Diego and an avid traveler. His adventurous spirit has taken him to Peru and Panama, where he accompanied 24 UC San Diego students on two different week-long service projects during spring break. When not traveling, Ryan stays active in local community service projects through the Rotaract Club where he met his wife four years ago.
Giving back is a top priority for UC San Diego senior Alex Doo, ’11. As the former president of the UCSD Scholars Society, Alex inspired fellow scholars to volunteer. Together they cleaned local beaches, walked for a cure during Relay for Life and hosted an inaugural overnight stay program to recruit promising prospective scholars.
Student Elizabeth Elman, ’11, serves as copresident of the Foundation for International Medical Relief of Children (FIMRC), a U.S.-based, global nonprofit organization dedicated to helping children in need. They work to establish rural clinics throughout South America and bring medical care. Elizabeth also works with the Associated Students and the Sustainability Student Collective to create a greener UC San Diego.
Alumna Melody Gonzales, ’02, is an inspirational advocate for the Latino population. She is the director of member outreach for Representative and Democratic Caucus Vice Chair Xavier Becerra representing California’s 31st District. In 2008, she organized “Latinos for Obama,” a group dedicated to registering and educating Latino voters. She is an active member and former vice president of the Congressional Hispanic Staff Association; board member for Youth Today; and president of the UCSD Alumni Association’s Washington D.C. Chapter. Melody was the recipient of the inaugural Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2010.
Brian Gregory is an Assistant Vice Chancellor for Strategic Campus Resource Initiatives. He volunteers about four hours per week as the treasurer of his condominium association. Brian has used ideas from UC San Diego to support energy conservation and lower costs for his fellow owners. For example, all the lights in the parking garage (on 24 hours every day) were replaced to cut electric usage and costs, with a quick payback period of one year.
Student Christine Ha, ’11, is the founder and president of Global Brigades, a national organization of students and professionals to bring sustainable development and medical care to developing communities. Christine is also working on founding an orphanage in Kilimanjaro to work with HIV positive orphans. She is also on the Global Health Initiative Steering Committee to develop the program at UC San Diego.
Recent graduate Tobias Haglund, ’10, has been volunteering for as long as he can remember. Since coming to UC San Diego, Tobias has participated in a mentorship program called Young Life to help develop high school students and their interests before university. Tobias also does community development work through FLOOD Church in Uganda and other cities. Tobias volunteers to give others the opportunities that were given to him.
Community member Clara Harris has built a lasting legacy in her community through her wide-ranging and on-going volunteer work, from peace dialogues to refugee resettlement to equality and social justice. As founder of the Heartland Human Relations Association, she combats discrimination and has worked to ensure fair housing practices. As a member of the La Mesa Rotary Club, Clara exemplifies the humanitarian motto of Rotary — “service above self."
Khaled Hosseini, who graduated from UC San Diego’s School of Medicine in 1993, is the best-selling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns. He serves as an envoy to the UN High Commission on Refugees for Afghanistan. He also established The Khaled Hosseini Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit that funds permanent shelters for Afghan refugees and supports educational and other opportunities for Afghan women and youth. In 2008 he received the UCSD Alumni Association’s Outstanding Alumnus Award at the annual Awards for Excellence celebration.
Alumnus Tony Jackson, ’74, is the grandson of Booker T. Washington and he has emulated his grandfather by guiding young people to the campus he loves. In partnership with the 100 Black Men of Los Angeles, Inc., and the Young Black Scholars Program, he organizes trips for underrepresented L.A. students to visit UC San Diego. He works closely with the Office of Admissions and Relations with Schools on recruiting throughout the state. In 2008, he received the UCSD Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award at the annual Awards for Excellence celebration.
For decades, retiree Pat JaCoby has given her time and energy to improve her community and help others around the world. She has a particular passion for the arts and for children. She recently volunteered in a small Costa Rican village teaching English to young adults and helping children in their outdoor classroom. She also volunteered in New Orleans, helping rebuild homes destroyed in Hurricane Katrina.
Pongpunya Jack Korpob, a recent graduate of UC San Diego, has dedicated himself to the student organization Alternative Breaks @ UCSD. He has led three service trips, participated in two national Alternative Break Citizenship schools, oversaw a 10-person executive board, served two years as one of three co-coordinators of Alternative Breaks @ UCSD and managed the program's website. With his passion to service and social justice issues, Jack has committed to a term with City Year Boston where he continues to be an active citizen.
For the past decade, Joe LaCava has given his time and energy improving his community of La Jolla. He chairs several committees as well as the local community planning group and sits on numerous community and city-wide committees. He works tirelessly to facilitate decision-making and mediate debates, foster creative approaches to everyday problems, and grind through bureaucratic processes. He has a particular passion for empowering others through education and support. Joe is patient and takes the time to address individual questions and concerns as well as push and discern information so that community processes are inclusive and transparent.
It’s great when one person can make a difference, but even better when that one person can inspire hundreds of others to do so as well. Emily Loui is the Manager of Service and Civic Leadership at UC San Diego’s Extension. She brings people on service learning trips to places like the Dominican Republic, Mexico, China, Uganda, Argentina and Guatemala through the Global Volunteer Service. While not traveling around the world, she volunteers at UC San Diego as an advisor for Alternative Breaks and as a language tutor for the International Center.
Lee Martin, ’99, is an ex-San Diego Police Department SWAT team member. He produced arranged, composed and performed lullabies on his recently recorded solo album, “Beloved,” with all proceeds benefiting the Agapetos Foundation, a San Diego-based charity that assists children with special needs. He is the recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt College Ambassador Award and received the inaugural Outstanding Young Alumni Award in 2010.
Alumna Janet McCulley, ’90, is managing director of McCulley Design Lab and co-founder of Muttropolis, a store for cats and dogs, and she routinely adds service to her busy schedule. Since 2002, she and her company have helped find homes for hundreds of cats and dogs. McCulley also serves on the UCSD Communication Alumni Advisory Board. She has been a speaker and panelist for large communication student audiences, and a mentor to current students as well.
While working in a clinic in rural India, student Nikhil Nadkarni knew he could do more. After returning to UC San Diego from his summer volunteer service in the clinic, Nikhil created a student organization to fundraise and bring other students back with him. While working to bring 20 students to volunteer in India, Nikhil also volunteers with the Student Foundation, fundraising and awarding student scholarships.
Hans Paar is a professor at UC San Diego who has a passion for teaching and researching physics. He also has a passion for trains and has been a member of the Board of Trustees for the San Diego Model Railroad Museum for five years. He is also a member of the San Diego Society of N Scale and the La Mesa Model Railroad Club; both clubs operate exhibits in the museum.
Alumnus Colin Parent, ’03, is the founder and co-director of the San Diego New Leaders Council, a local chapter of a national entrepreneurial leadership program for progressive young professionals. The New Leaders Council annually trains 15-20 Fellows to build a deeper bench of progressives who are able to make change in their communities. Colin also finds the time to represent homeless veterans at San Diego’s Homeless Court. In 2010, the San Diego News Network named Colin to its list of 35 Under 35 San Diego community leaders "who are shaping the region we live in, and beyond." In 2009, San Diego Metropolitan magazine named him one of its 40 Under 40, the only program in San Diego honoring young entrepreneurs.
Alumnus Stanley W. Perkins, MD, has a long history of giving back to those in need. While a UC San Diego biophysics major, he piloted medical personnel to remote villages in Baja California as a member of the Flying Samaritans, and also assisted with the dental and medical procedures. After he finished his medical training, he brought the latest in anesthesia technology and his expertise to help four-legged patients at the San Diego Zoo and the San Diego Wild Animal Park. To this day, when he finishes his “day job” as medical director of the Sharp Outpatient Pavilion, he continues to volunteer locally and at other zoos and animal parks around the country.
Judy Piercey, Senior Director of Marketing and Communications at UC San Diego, has a new best friend, “Leo.” He’s tall, handsome and blonde; he’s also a horse! As a result of the UC San Diego Volunteer50 initiative, Judy was inspired to become a volunteer at the nonprofit Helen Woodward Animal Center. She assists in the Center’s Therapeutic Riding program that benefits children and adults who have a variety of special needs. Students ride specially trained horses with certified instructors in weekly sessions to develop increased balance and muscle control, improve concentration and short-term memory, and enhance their confidence and self-esteem. Volunteers lead the horses or serve as “side-walkers” to ensure that the student stays on; they also assist in grooming and saddling the horses.
Staff member Vanessa Pool has recorded books for the blind, participated in beach clean-ups, worked on renovations on an Indian reservation, worked on political campaigns and conducted archival research for a history non-profit. Now she organizes a group of UC San Diego colleagues and their friends and family to go to the San Diego Food Bank to package and sort food. The Food Bank serves more than 300,000 people each month, 48 percent of whom are children.
Student Tiffany Rivera, ’11, has spent her time at UC San Diego working with Alternative Breaks, an international service learning program taking students to different parts of the world to work on social justice issue and other projects needed by the community. She also helps coordinate UCSD Cares Week, a weeklong event showcasing all the philanthropy done by the university.
Alumna Colette Rudd, ’73, has volunteered for the UCSD Alumni Association for more than 20 years. In the early 1990s she helped established one of the first regional alumni chapters in the Bay Area with Mark Diamond, ’87, former president of the UCSD Alumni Association. Together they began one of the Association’s longest and most beloved traditions, the Summer Send-Off Picnics for news students and their families. Colette served two terms on the UCSD Alumni Association board of directors and as alumni chapter liaison.
Staff member Zachary Schlagel is an active volunteer with the American Cancer Society, Entity Leader for the Heart Walk, board member of the Mexican-American Business Professionals Association and Chair of the San Diego North Chamber of Commerce - Health Committee and the UC San Diego Health System Smoke-Free Task Force.
Alumna Marjorie Seybold, IR/PS, ’91, is active as an ESL teacher in the joint La Jolla/Tijuana Rotary project for teenagers in Tijuana. She conducts weekly teaching sessions either in person or online with the students. The Project, co-founded by Marjorie’s late husband, John Vaughan, M.D., supports 27 sixth to twelfth graders from poor areas of Tijuana in learning English and computer skills. A retired physician, Marjorie served for 30 years on the Neurosciences faculty at UC San Diego.
Alumnus Thom Sherman, ’88, is executive vice president for The CW Network and is responsible for three of TV’s most acclaimed prime-time series: Desperate Housewives, Grey’s Anatomy, and Lost. Having benefited from his own alumni connections in the entertainment industry, he helped launched the UCSD Alumni Entertainment Alliance for new professionals entering film, television, theatre and performing arts, media, and fashion. In 2010, he received the UCSD Alumni Association’s Distinguished Service Award at the annual Awards for Excellence celebration.
Kim Signoret-Paar is the Senior Director of Development in Student Affairs at UC San Diego. When she isn’t raising money for students, she is volunteering for students. It all started when her children attended the San Diego French-American School in 1990, and Kim Signoret-Paar, joined the Board of Trustees as a member. She served as Board Chair in 2001-2002, and currently serves on the Trustees and Development Committee.
As a student, Nastasha Tan, ’10, served as both the Community Coordinator for Warren College Residential Life and the Executive Director for the Associated Students Volunteer Connection, influencing the UC San Diego community to volunteer and to help others. Nastasha organized “Take a Kid to a Game Day” to educate underprivileged kids about college. This program invites kids to the UC San Diego campus to participate in educational activities and to watch a UCSD sports game with college volunteers. She says it’s a great way to encourage kids to pursue a higher education because they see what college is really like.
Alumna Jan Tuttleman, M.B.A. ’06, is the founding president of Women Give San Diego. She also serves in leadership roles for many local organizations including the United Jewish Federation of San Diego County, the Jewish Community Foundation of San Diego, the San Diego Jewish Women’s Foundation, Sanford-Burnham Medical Research Institute and The Vision of Children. She was the founding chair of the Jewish Women’s Foundation of San Diego and the past president of the San Diego United Jewish Federation Women’s Division. Until recently, Jan was the vice president of marketing for Huya International, and a business development and licensing consultant for Progenetor, Inc.
Alumna Stephanie Usry, ’10, strives to stay involved and make a difference in all walks of life. As a student, Stephanie was a founding ambassador in the Alumni Discovery Initiative, Vice Chair of the Student Foundation, a lead consultant with the Center for Student Involvement, an A.S. Senator and athlete on the Cycling Team. When she is free, Stephanie volunteers with the SkillsUSA National Skills and Leadership Competition for high school students, enjoys travelling, and remains passionate in giving back to her peers and her alma mater.
Dr. Olga A. Vasquez is an Associate Professor of Communications at UC San Diego and founder of the Center for Academic and Social Advancement (CASA). Since 1989, she has helped low-income minority children and adults foster the necessary academic, technology, life and language skills needed to thrive in school, and prepare for college and entering the work force.
Staff veteran Irma Martinez Velasco is a regular volunteer with MANA de San Diego, a community organization that provides support to Latinas. Irma is involved in the youth mentorship program, ensuring that young Latinas pursue higher education. Most recently, Irma’s volunteerism with MANA de San Diego has lead her to a position on their Board of Directors, where she serves as the Vice President. Irma is also a regular volunteer at her daughter’s pre-school in San Diego.
Esther Viti is an energetic and dedicated woman who is head of the La Jolla Town Council Nell Carpenter Beautification Committee. She works endlessly at keeping her community clean and she is continuously brainstorming ideas to improve its beauty for people to enjoy. Every second Saturday of the month, she invites volunteers of the community to join her in downtown La Jolla to pick up trash, sweep the sidewalks and gutters, clean the flower beds and pull weeds.
Staff alumna Lauren White strives to make a difference in her community. She participates in various community service projects hosted by her church, Flood, including Flood Love, a program that helps the homeless in San Diego by offering them a bite to eat and some friendly conversation. The Alzheimer’s Association is another organization dear to Lauren’s heart. Lauren got involved a little over a year ago at their annual Memory Walk. Since then, she’s volunteered for all their annual fundraising events including the Quest to Unravel Alzheimer’s Scavenger Hunt and their spring fundraiser.
Keith York is the Senior Director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for UC San Diego External Relations. He started his career in volunteerism by working with Save Our Heritage Organization, a local non-profit focused on preserving San Diego’s rich cultural and architectural legacy. After enjoying committee work, fundraising and event planning, he joined the Board of the San Diego Architectural Foundation. For the last several years, Keith served the organization with strategic planning, fundraising, web site production and events. Last year, he assisted the San Diego Museum of Art in launching a new initiative, The Gallery, a fundraising group that recruits a new generation of younger art patrons.
Staff member Belinda Zamacona has a passion for teaching! She has been volunteering at Memorial Preparatory for Scholars and Athletes since 2005. There she works with the middle school students as a mentor and tutor. She also volunteers with the parents at Memorial Prep serving as a translator. Belinda’s passion for working with youth and helping them stay academically focused also takes her to Lincoln High School where she works with two student groups providing mentoring and motivation to attend college.
Following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001, Jenni Prisk founded Voices of Women (VOW) to expand knowledge of global issues, advocate for human rights and support the equal participation of women and men in advancing human security. An avid volunteer, Jenni has given time and energy to many local charities, including Mama’s Kitchen, the YWCA, the Old Globe Theatre, and Nonprofit Management Solutions. Jenni is currently spearheading “Global Women Speak Out!” on March 7, 2011, at UC San Diego. VOW and UC San Diego are collaborating to present this live performance that celebrates the 100th Anniversary of International Women’s Day.